Originally Published 2010-10-30 00:00:00 Published on Oct 30, 2010
What is bewildering is the stone silence on the part of ordinary Americans who are being hoodwinked by the Obama administration into believing that funnelling money and weapons to Pakistan's rogue military would help in winning strategic goals. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Another shower for Pakistan
America’s short-sighted policies have created a mutant nation-State in South Asia known as Pakistan which today poses a grave threat not only to India but to the entire world. Supported and sustained for often contradictory and misplaced strategic goals by the US and its allies over the decades, Pakistan today is not only home to the largest conglomerate of violent non-State armed groups but also shelters a rogue, nuclear armed military-intelligence cabal which has had no qualms in hoodwinking the West time and again. Pakistan is today a deadly Albatross around Washington’s neck.

But strangely enough, there is no sign in Washington — White House, Pentagon or the State Department — of any lessons learnt from the past follies. Despite evidence mounting daily that its ‘strategic ally’ is turning its knife on America’s back, President Barak Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and many of their close aides are rushing headlong into another disaster. They are now busy putting together a massive economic and military aid to Pakistan which, it is claimed, would help the state, wedded to terrorism, stabilise. There cannot be a crueller joke on the people of the region who have been victims of Pakistan’s terrorist activities since 1948.

What is bewildering is the stone silence on the part of ordinary Americans who are being hoodwinked by the Obama administration into believing that funnelling money and weapons to Pakistan’s rogue military would help in winning strategic goals. Nothing could be farther from the truth. One need only look at Pakistan’s neighbourhood and the desperation on the part of the Obama administration to flee from Afghanistan.

Successive US military as well as financial assistance have strengthened the military-intelligence cabal responsible for creating the vast, highly networked terrorist infrastructure which today pose a serious threat to most nations in the world. It is quite well known that not only has the military diverted the American taxpayer’s money to reward its officers with gifts of prime real estate, but also created a nuclear armed military machine which has the potential to turn against the master.

Pakistan’s deception has often been as outrageous as it has been blatant. Musharraf is on record stating that the US military aid given to him for fighting the al-Qaeda and the Taliban after 2001 was utilised to beef up Pakistan’s military capability against India. Several internal investigations in the US showed that Pakistan military had used the American money to buy conventional military equipment like F-16s, aircraft-mounted armaments, anti-ship and anti-missile defense systems, and an air defense radar system costing $200 million. According to a July 2009 study published by the Belfast Center for Science and International Affairs (US Aid to Pakistan — US Tax Payers Have Funded Pakistani Corruption), more than half of the total funds — 54.9 per cent — were spent on fighter aircraft and weapons, over a quarter — 26.62 per cent — on support and other aircraft, and 10 per cent on advanced weapons systems.

The inventory of weapon systems gifted or sold to Pakistan by the US since 2001 clearly underlines this paradox: AN/TPS-77 Radars (Cost: $100 million), Phalanx CIWS x 6 (Cost: $79.7 million), Tow 2A Missiles x 2014 (Cost: $65.4 million), P-3C Aircraft x 8 (Cost: $295.33 million), Harpoon Missile x 100 (Cost: $297.823 million), AIM-9M Missiles x 300 (Cost: $47.548 million), F-16 C/D Aircraft x 18 (Cost: $1.433 billion), Mid-Life Update (MLU) for F-16 A/B x 60 (Cost: $890.954 mn), F-16 A/B Modification of Excess Defense Article (EDA) Aircraft x 12 ( Cost: $11.084 million), M-109 Howitzers x 115 (Cost: $86.442 million), and AMRAAM x 500, AIM-9M x 200, JDAM x 500, BLU-109 x 700, MK-82/84 x 800 (Cost: $666.507 million).

Not all of Uncle Sam’s ‘generosity’ went to procuring arms, some went to personal accounts of senior military officers. The series of fraud in accounting have not been a secret either. The total money embezzled till 2008 totalled over $2 billion. For instance, investigations by US Government Accounting Office in 2008 discovered that $1.5 million were reimbursed to Pakistan for damage to Navy vehicles which were not used in combat, another $15 million was given to the army to build bunkers which of course were never built, about $30 million were given for roads which exist on paper, a sum of $200 million was paid for radar expenses from January 2004 to February 2007 even though neither al Qaida or the Taliban had any air attack capability, and $55 million dollars for helicopter maintenance which never happened. On top of it, the Pakistan claimed $80 million per month for military operations from the US even for ceasefire periods when troops were in their barracks.

Another unique way of defrauding the US Treasury was ‘double-dipping’ — billing for the same item more than once under separate heads. For instance, charges were claimed for “vehicle damage” as well as “cost of vehicles repaired”, all of which went to line some General’s pockets or bank accounts.

Besides diversion of funds to buy conventional weapons and gross corruption, three more grave implications of the US funding of the rogue Pakistani military establishment has been — persistent undermining of democratic process, creating and sustaining terrorist groups and a largely illicit nuclear weapons programme.

Far more extensively documented has been the Army’s covert and overt support to terrorist groups after 2001. At least part of the funds came from the US Treasury. New terrorist training camps were set up by ISI when present Army chief Ashfaq Kayani was the ISI chief and trainers were paid a monthly salary amounting at times more than what a Frontier Corps soldier earned. Terrorist leaders like Lashkar-e-Tayyeba chief Hafiz Saeed were paid ‘severance’ money for temporary laying off during 2001-2002 period when there was intense international scrutiny of Pakistan’s dalliance with terrorist groups. A recent report of Punjab government giving a few million rupees every year to Jamaat-ud Dawa, the parent body of LeT, underlines the possibility of American funds given to Pakistan for various educational as well as social welfare measure being diverted to terrorist groups and their activities.

The grave implications of the American funding of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme, largely illicit, should not be lost either. A confidential CIA report in the 80s had documented systematic diversion of US aid to set up the nuclear weapons programme in Pakistan. The rogue nuclear scientist, AQ Khan, who bought and sold nuclear materials and designs, till early 2004, had boasted that the American funds were indeed used in procuring nuclear materials and know-how from the global nuclear underworld. There is no doubt that significant portion of both overt and covert funding provided by the US to Pakistan since 2001 have been diverted to strengthen Pakistan’s nuclear programme. Considering President Obama’s often stated claim of pursuing a nuke-free world, the decision to pump in billions of dollars to Pakistan could only mean a step closer to Nuclear Armageddon.

(Wilson John is a Senior Fellow with Observer Research Foundation)

Coutesy: The Pioneer

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